Wednesday, 5 October 2011

The Great White Spirit

Today's card from the Prairie Tarot is quite a visually challenging one. 

This is this deck's equivalent to the Hanged Man, and certainly the man here is hanging, just not upside down.  Instead, his flesh is pierced by hooks, and it is from these that he hangs, his weight suspended and held by his own skin and sinew.

In some tribes, this rite was called the Sun Dance, and this looks like the association of the deck creator, given the bright orb in the sky behind him.  Although to uninformed eyes this could well look like a form of torture, in fact this was an initiation ritual willingly entered into.  It was a way of entering into a trance state, to commune with the "Great White Spirit".  Shaman's also practised this, seeking healing.  In this manifestation, the symbolism echoes well the descriptions of Odin hanging from Yggdrasil (the World Tree) which is often seen in depictions of the Hanged Man.  So, a card of sacrifice embraced for spiritual development, social growth, and healing.  And, in participating in this ritual, of course the men (and it was only men in the Sioux tribes who carried out this practice) were exempted from day-to-day routines for a while.  A time out of everyday life to commune with the numinous.

This card raises the questions: what am I willing to sacrifice today?  What do I need to do in order to grow and learn?  How can I connect with the divine?  I think I'll have to get back to you on that one!

How about you?  What do you see in this card?  And is there something you need to sacrifice or experience today?

I am grateful for the reminder that we can learn from any experience, no matter how seemingly painful.


  1. Ouch.

    I got this card today. It definitely is a hard one. One of the hardest, in my opinion, but someone so versed in yoga and meditation probably has a better grasp of it than someone like me.


  2. Hi MM,

    I generally quite like this card, in the sense that there's a lot of learning it can offer. And the change of perspective element intrigues me. However, the sacrifice and having to wait aspects are not as fun. I'm quite an active person, so the bit where it says, "Actually, there's nothing you can do right now except try to prepare for when things change" can be pretty tough! Those are some of the ways I see it, anyway.

    What do you make of it today?


  3. I definitely think I need to work on liking this card better. :) I also have a problem with waiting for things to develop, and sacrifice isn't really a FUN concept, but it does make sense that current issues and stresses may not be as ultimately important as something that you're working on which will come to fruition later. Though sometimes I wonder about that.

    I think what you said about 'nothing you can do right now' is the best interpretation overall. I definitely think that's what this card was saying for me, too, yesterday.